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Champions League: defeated by Bayern at home, PSG wants to continue to believe in it

“It’s a heartache. » It’s a heartache. This Tuesday, February 14, Valentine’s Day, Bonnie Tyler’s song – at least a revisited version – was sung at the top of the lungs by the supporters of the Auteuil stand of the Parc des Princes, when the English referee, Michael Oliver, kicked off the second period of the round of 16 first leg of the Champions League (C1) between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Bayern Munich. A premonitory musical choice: eight minutes later, Kingsley Coman calmed the ardor of the Parisians, scoring with a volley the first and only goal of a meeting until then sluggish. Kingsley Coman, the former “titi”, born in the capital and trained at PSG. Kingsley Coman, the player who scored the only goal, again, in the C1 final lost in 2020 by the Parisians.

A small blow to the heart, but not enough to drown in an ocean of tears. If the Auteuil stand is then content to change discs, it is because it saw Kylian Mbappé begin to warm up on the edge of the lawn. His number 7, the providential man who had been announced, for a time, unavailable after a thigh injury. Top scorer in the World Cup, he was also, before the meeting, co-top scorer in this edition of the Champions League with Liverpool player Mohamed Salah (seven goals in six games).

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Entered at 57e minute, Mbappé did not change the outcome of the meeting, won 1-0 by the Bavarians, but he had the merit of waking up the troops: in the first half, PSG had not fired once ; in the second half, he scored 9 attempts, including 4 on target and two goals disallowed on offside by Kylian Mbappé (74e ; 82e). “I wasn’t supposed to play, I wanted to help my friends, bring energy, we tried everything, we worked day and night and I was able to play a bitexplained the number 7 at the microphone of Canal + at the end of the match. We have to remember the end, we have a disadvantage, but we saw that we were able to put them in difficulty, all our players have to be in good health and go there [pour le match retour, le 8 mars] to win at home and qualify. »

Kylian Mbappé reacts after the non-validation of his goal in the round of 16 first leg of the Champions League between Paris Saint-Germain and Bayern Munich, at the Parc des Princes, February 14, 2023.

“We were the better team, but there is a second step to take in Munich. We will have confidence with us. We were dominant and we were more aggressive. The stats were for us and we could have scored a 2e or a 3e goal, but Kylian Mbappé can change any game, admitted Julian Nagelsmann, the coach of Bayern Munich. PSG with Mbappé is better than without him. But on the return we will have good ideas to counter it and we can hurt them in attack. »

Limit breakage

The return of the queen competition of European football, after a three-month hiatus due to the World Cup in Qatar, looked like a cleaver for the capital club. Christophe Galtier’s men have limited the breakage promised to them against the German champion, who has lost only one meeting this season – September 17 in the Bundesliga, against Augsburg (1-0) – and is surfing on a 19-game unbeaten streak.

Still at the top of Ligue 1, PSG has been struggling since the resumption of competition at the end of December. The defending champion now only has a 5-point lead over his runner-up Olympique de Marseille (OM) – whom he will find in the league on February 26. PSG, which had not experienced a single setback in the first part of the season, was upgraded to Ligue 1 by Lens, Rennes, and Monaco. He was also taken out of the Coupe de France by his great rival Marseille. “We are 14 goals conceded since the resumption. It’s as much as before the break. It’s way too much “, summarized Galtier after the defeat of his men on the Rock on Saturday. Especially since four of the five victories recorded in the last ten games have been gleaned against teams in difficulty in the league or small teams in the Coupe de France.

Not to the best effect for a club with a five-star cast, whose slogan is ” dream bigger “, and who intends to play the leading roles within the European elite. In the locker room, the atmosphere would be explosive and the discontent is rising among the supporters. At the end of this Wednesday’s meeting, despite the defeat, the Parisian players were applauded by the Parc des Princes.

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The fact remains that three weeks before the return match, on March 8, at the Allianz Arena, a little familiar music begins to resonate: that of the premature exits from the queen competition of European football. In 2017, PSG were eliminated in the round of 16 after having won their home match (4-0), before collapsing (6-1) in Barcelona. Two years later, another thing: victorious in the first act (2-0) on the lawn of Manchester United, the Ile-de-France residents lost 3-1 at the Parc des Princes – Kimpembe having conceded the Mancunians a penalty at the last minute. Finally last year, Karim Benzema netted a hat-trick for Madrid in under twenty minutes as PSG crumbled in the second half, having again won the first leg. A humiliation still in everyone’s head.

Will Kylian Mbappé and his teammates see the quarter-finals of this edition? This time, the game seems to be off to a bad start, but that’s forgetting that the capital’s club has accustomed its supporters to the worst… as well as the best. And Christophe Galtier to insist: “Tonight there is no eliminated, no qualified. »

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